Why Are We Serving Alcohol On Our Plane? – Former MAS CEO Idris Jala Shares Anecdote On Religion And Alcohol


(Malaysian Digest) – Pemandu CEO Datuk Idris Jala, who was formerly Malaysian Airlines (MAS) CEO had shared an experience he had during a Q & A with MAS employees when a staff demanded a ‘religious’ answer from him regarding the national airline serving alcohol.

Idris recounted the following story at his talk at the conference on “Nation Building, Unity and the Malaysian Dream: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” at Institute Integrity Malaysia held on September 16, an online news portal reported.

“This guy stood up during the Q & A session and said to me, ‘boss, we are an Islamic country, Malaysia Airlines is the national airline, why are we serving alcohol on our plane? Brunei doesn’t, Saudi doesn’t.

“And he went on to say to me, ‘Don’t tell me the reason is because customers want it, I want a religious response from you’.”

Idris then replied by informing the person that he would give a religious reply but he first wanted him to answer two questions in return.

“I asked him, ‘do you believe that God is all powerful, that he can do anything he wants with his power?’” Idris said that the employee responded “yes”.

“Then I asked him ‘do you believe that God does not like sin, does not like alcohol?’ and again he answered yes, ‘God does not like alcohol’.

“I said, if you say ‘God is all powerful, he not does like sin, why does he not use his power to remove sin and alcohol?

“And I told him I would provide the answer to that, and I said, it is because God is a God of justice, he gives us freedom to choose to sin or not to sin, to drink or not to drink and that is the concept of God.

“If you think that God is only all power, only all righteousness, then if he was only just that, he would use his power to remove all sin, then we are incapable of sinning, but God is not a God that forces people,” Idris said, sharing that the MAS employees unanimously applauded his answer, including the person who posed the question.

The former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who had just finished serving his term as an appointed senator told the audience that he was able to draw on his own Kelabit origins where an ultra-conservative version of Christianity is practiced in his village in Bario, Sarawak which prohibits drinking and smoking and how the ban has been debated for the last two decades.

His talk at the conference was about the deep divides that separate the different religions in Malaysia and discussing the separation of religion from a nation’s governance.